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LECOM Expands Regional Campuses to the American Heartland

Festus, Missouri, home of Mercy Hospital Jefferson, marks the first Midwest location for the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM) as the College expands its ever-broadening Regional Campus offerings for clinical training.

LECOM established the new relationship with Mercy Hospital Jefferson – part of a 50-hospital system with Mercy Hospital Jefferson as the lead hospital – as the latest in its array of LECOM Regional campuses. Karthik Iyer, MD, the Chief Medical Officer for Mercy Hospital Jefferson will serve as the inaugural Regional Dean.

As the largest medical college and only osteopathic academic health center in the nation, LECOM leaders were pleased to announce an anticipated summer opening of its new Regional Campus.

“When we visited Mercy Jefferson, we saw firsthand the robust healthcare services they provide their community,” noted Dr. Michael Rowane, LECOM Associate Dean of Clinical Education. “The level of care provided to patients is exactly what we need so our students can receive the variety of clinical experiences necessary for them to become excellent physicians,” Dr. Rowane furthered.

The collaboration between LECOM and Mercy reflects shared vision, values, and mission.

Known well for preparing scholars to become highly-skilled physicians, pharmacists, dentists, and podiatrists, LECOM also serves its communities by addressing healthcare needs and by improving the overall quality of life for its residents.

The Mercy Hospital mission follows the heritage of the Sisters of Mercy, delivering care to places where it is most needed and serving people where they live. Likewise, LECOM has a long-standing mission of prescient discernment of need, establishing its well-regarded medical education and healthcare footprint in many regions across the United States.

For more than three decades, LECOM has realized its foundational promise under the skillful and steady direction of its President and CEO, John M. Ferretti, D.O., who has established, expanded, and advanced the LECOM mission, guiding the bold and purposeful path of all that is LECOM.

“It’s important to have an honest collaboration such as this in bringing together a shared vision,” explained Silvia M. Ferretti, D.O., LECOM Provost, Senior Vice President and Dean of Academic Affairs. “We find that in working together with Mercy Jefferson, our mutual goals of serving those in need will be met,” the LECOM leader affirmed. Dr. Silvia Ferretti has been instrumental in the resounding success of the College and in ensuring that a LECOM medical education has become the hallmark of excellence throughout the healthcare professions.

LECOM chose Mercy Jefferson for its rural setting as such rural communities require supplemental support to sustain healthcare resources. Rural healthcare facilities also provide to medical students – those who seek to serve in rural areas – the chance to learn within that same setting.

Approximately 70% of LECOM graduates become Primary Care Physicians. Mercy prioritizes increasing the number of Primary Care Physicians to ensure patients receive the access that they need to maintain their good health and to prevent otherwise avoidable hospital care. Such efforts are particularly important in rural settings where often, there are fewer healthcare options.

“Medical students often grow to love the communities in which they undergo their training. After all, they’ll be there for several years,” Dr. Rowane commented. “Frequently, once these students become doctors, they choose to remain in the community,” he concluded.

The new LECOM regional campus includes the added benefit of offering the LECOM Early Acceptance Program. Through this Program, LECOM and Mercy will team with local high schools and colleges to identify potential medical school candidates, providing to those

students the opportunity to earn an advanced degree.

Karthik Iyer, M.D.

“Less than 7% of Jefferson County residents have earned a Master’s Degree or higher,” revealed Dr. Karthik Iyer, “We see a tremendous opportunity for us to grow that number by removing potential barriers and improving access to higher education,” the Mercy Jefferson Chief Medical Officer assured.

LECOM seeks to assist applicants who are the first in their family to enter higher education. Moreover, the College proudly offers one of the lowest tuition fees in the nation for private medical colleges; and LECOM provides financial aid to 89% of its scholars.

The first cohort of 12 medical students will arrive at Mercy Hospital Jefferson this summer; and the Regional Campus will expand during the coming years to welcome as many as 72 medical students. Mercy Jefferson will provide all clinical rotations, training students to become skilled and compassionate physicians; and its clinicians will have the opportunity to serve as medical education faculty.

“The chance to serve as faculty is a significant draw for many physicians,” Dr. Iyer noted. “I’ve spoken to several doctors who told me that serving at a teaching hospital swayed them to stay. It will undoubtedly help us recruit additional physicians to Mercy Jefferson, which is a huge win for the entire community,” he affirmed.

“We are immensely proud of what this Regional Campus means for Jefferson County,” said Dan Eckenfels, Mercy Jefferson Communities President. “Mercy Regional President Eric Ammons took the idea and connected us with Dr. Rowane and LECOM, a pivotal starting point in getting us where we are today. I look forward to seeing how Dr. Iyer and the LECOM team grow this program and make it a crown jewel of Jefferson County,” beamed Mr. Eckenfels.

From the soul of the heartland to the farthest corners of communities across the nation, LECOM healthcare professionals are making an important and positive difference in the betterment of health and wellness.

LECOM takes great pride in this newest endeavor as a transformational step in its ever-expanding educational nexus.